Vismayam: My parents

For as long as I can remember, people have poured out their sympathies to my parents for having three daughters. As a child, I innocently assumed it was because girls would have to live with their husbands and not their parents after the wedding. However, as I grew up, I realised the concerns were purely financial; the trouble was around the amount of dowry my parents would have to pay out to have the three of us married. Luckily for my sisters and me, my parents did not share the same concerns.

The society we live in has been worried about my wedding since my graduation at the age of 21. In my household, a proposal or the suggestion of marriage was nothing but a joke around that age.

I grew up being repeatedly taught by my parents that a woman should be self-reliant and financially independent; to my parents, this was paramount. My parents actively shielded us from a society that constantly put pressure on young women to be married by avoiding the discussion in my house. They paid it no importance at all. 

If a proposal had got as far as becoming a discussion at my house, it was quickly shut down. My parents never diverted our attention from building our careers, travelling and finding new hobbies at the ages of 23 or 24 to take on the responsibilities of married life. 

My parents ran a checklist for marriage that didn’t include our age; the list contained simple questions like could we make good decisions?

Or, could we handle life and its troubles without fear of judgement? 

Growing up in my household, my sisters and I were never asked the question: “What will people say?” or “What will people think?” To my parents, society’s opinions had no value in comparison to our happiness.  Only now do I realise how revolutionary my parents have been.

My parents taught us our worth as individuals, so why would we ever pay for a husband? 

The news recently had made me more grateful to my parents than ever before, if only many more girls had parents like mine. 

So many young women would be alive and happier today if they were taught that the public opinion of their personal decisions shouldn’t be their concern.

Many more young women would be alive today if they were taught financial independence and self-respect. If only they were taught that someone who loves you would never physically or mentally harm you. If only they weren’t married off so young before they were given a chance to build a life for themselves.

I have spoken to young men and their parents who expect a dowry; their parents raised them with the sense of entitlement that a woman should pay to marry them. But I thought to the educated, modern man of the 21st century, asking for dowry from a woman’s parent is the equivalent of begging.

Let’s be careful not to marry our young women to such panhandlers. Let’s ensure our young women thrive and tell us when they are ready for marriage instead of succumbing to societal pressures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *